July 19th, 2023
Short blog this week as I've been away in the campervan during which time I spent some of my holiday watching the awning and wondering if it was still going to be there in the morning, such was the strength of the wind. Plenty of rain as well. British summertime eh ? To be honest I'd have this type of weather any day over what they are enduring across the pond and in southern Europe.
We really are dodging a meteorological bullet currently.
The GFS image above from www.tropicaltidbits.com shows where we are quite beautifully I think....
The meteorological reality is that areas of the USA and southern Europe are sitting under a high pressure peak, a so called 'heat dome' and we are sitting under a low pressure trough.
At some point this will change but I am hoping we continue with this weather for a little while longer because it is bringing a nice bit of recovery from the 5 weeks of hot, dry weather we endured from mid-May to the end of June.
Selfish I know, but 40-45°C just isn't my cup of tea....
It isn't good for nature either....
A lovely example of how the recent wet and unsettled weather has benefitted nature was plain to see on the cliff tops of Rhossili (The Gower Peninsular, Wales) in the wild flower meadows, with Worms Head in the background. A beautiful display of flowers, full of Butterflies, buzzing bees and birds. Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Sky Larks and Goldfinches were present in abundance. Just sitting there taking it all in and listening to the roar of the wind was a beautiful experience, good for the soul.
No trip to Rhossili would be complete for me without popping into one of Prodata's customers, the Coastwatch station at Rhossili, to chat about the performance of their Davis weather station. Their anemometer really gets a workout !!!
No need to look at their wind direction data to see the prevailing wind direction on The Gower though eh ? 😀
OK, enough of my holiday snaps, onto a look at our current weather and what's round the corner, maybe....
General Weather Situation - 19-07-23
So looking at a mini-synopsis for the rest of the week, it is a continuation of July's unsettled theme. So showers for central and eastern areas today which will slowly dissipate and become isolated to eastern coasts. Rain as well for Scotland.
Despite the north west wind direction, temperatures will be slightly up on earlier in the week, 17-19°C. Away from these showers, there will be some spells of sunshine for all areas and as we progress through the day, more sunny intervals will prevail.
This pattern will continue into Thursday and Friday with less of the showers and more of the sunny intervals for all areas, with just the odd coastal shower across north eastern coasts. As we progress into Friday, we will see the arrival of more significant rain into the north and north west of Ireland on Friday afternoon. This rain will quickly affect into all of Ireland and then cross The Irish Sea into the west of Scotland on Friday evening.
By early on Saturday morning, the rain will be across Ireland and into the western coastline of the U.K, so Wales, The south and north west of England and the west of Scotland. During the course of Saturday this rain will move slowly across the U.K into central and eastern areas. This rain front is coming in from the north west and heading south east so it should miss most of Scotland, maybe just affecting The Borders. As we approach Saturday evening, the rain will clear all but the north of Ireland, but will cover most of the U.K, except Scotland.
Sunday will continue the wet theme, now mainly for Wales, central, eastern areas and northern England, with Scotland missing the worst of it. Most of Ireland will have cleared the rain, except the south west where it'll continue. Temperatures will remain in the 17-20°C range, with the warmer temperatures further south.
Weather Outlook - 24-07-23
So are we looking to continue the pattern described above or will high pressure and heat make an appearance ?
Not quite yet....
So, next week sees a weak ridge of high pressure trying to influence the southern half of the U.K, which means less rain and a bit more sunshine for the start of the week. Still rain around though on Monday as that rain front sits over East Anglia and The South East and slowly slopes off through the course of the day. They'll also be showers across Wales, The North West and Scotland. That rain across the east and south east of England will linger through Tuesday whilst other areas will dry up after the weekend's deluge in places, so on the whole, a better picture for Tuesday with some slightly warmer temperatures.
By Wednesday morning, we see another rain front push into the west of Ireland and this will cross the country during the course of the day and push into the west of England and Wales as well This rain will be accompanied by strengthening south westerly winds. By Thursday, the rain will be confined to the southern half of England with all other areas clearing. Not for long though as a new rain front courtesy of a North Atlantic low pressure pushes into the north west of Scotland, swings the wind around to the north west and introduces a slightly cooler and sunshine / showers theme for the end of next week extending into Saturday.
By Sunday we see a new ridge of high pressure try to assert itself so maybe for the start of August we will see some warmer and drier weather.
Now this ridge of high pressure has all the hallmarks of a heat plume but currently it isn't projected to last. There's a lot of meteorological water to flow under the bridge before then so it could easily change from transient to more permanent. Watch this space...
I am going to use a July-to-date print out from our Prodata Reporting Software using data from The Oxfordshire as a theme for my blog this week as it perfectly captures the theme of the month and its consequences, agronomically.
I have highlighted the pertinent data columns.
Now obviously rainfall data across the U.K & Ireland will be more variable and different to this location, but as we saw from the summary of June's weather, there was little variation in temperature and hence G.P and GDD data.
First up, let's look at growth.....well as you can see the daily Growth Potential figures (in green) are pretty much maxed out with consistent days > 0.90. In short if you can't go grass now, you need to have a chat with yourself in the mirror.
The problem, if it is a problem, is that there is probably too much grass growth now in some of the wetter areas of the U.K & Ireland, on heavier soils mybe. Dealing with this excess is a little tricky because the ever-present wind is making finding a spray day really problematic. Applying a PGR then isn't straight-forward. In lighter soil areas that really suffered in June's heatwave, this type of growth pattern interspersed with rainfall is far more welcome as it is providing good recovery. Not just above the ground but underneath, as consistent moisture will encourage new rooting on previously stressed grass plants.
Keeping good consistent greens speed is also a challenge because of the high daily Growth Potential but we know the score. Cutting, rolling and light dressings are the order of the day, with light foliar feeds, PGR's and iron top of the input list in my book.
It doesn't have to be more complicated than that.
If we look at the E.T levels, they are sitting in a nicely balanced scenario vs. rainfall for July so far, with only 4 days > 4.0mm so far this month. So we can deduce that plant stress levels are low and that means we can do some light grooming, verticutting and the like to keep areas looking tight.
Why aeration at the moment is key
Whilst on the subject of aeration, I would say venting your greens / surfaces at the moment is a high priority because we need to release any unwanted gases (anaerobic) created by high local rainfall events and at the same time input oxygen. This will help stimulate microbial activity and above all, root development.
And we need that root development because it is highly unlikely that we will get through the next couple of months without more high temperature and drought pressure. Roots are the insurance policy for the grass plant that allow it to cope with such stresses.
Now of course we are in mid-summer and golfers expect perfect conditions, well they do 24/7/365 in reality don't they ?
The rub is that is is quite possible to do some light summer aeration without upsetting the quality of the surface, ticking the dual boxes of necessary aeration and providing good playing conditions.
The problem is there's a mindset issue with the word aeration....
"Why are you aerating when the surfaces are so good ?"
I have heard that so many times in my turfgrass career and the pertinent answer is of course ;
"Because we want to keep them that way" (I'd probably add on Bucko, but that's just me)
The venting work I described above to stimulate microbial activity (to help fibre breakdown) and rooting is also a preventative action in terms of diseases like Anthracnose. The healthier the plant, the more resilient it is to this disease, full stop.
Allow surface fibre to build up, roots to become shallow and you might as well hand out a calling card for this disease. And believe me, when your surfaces are affected for most of the summer and early autumn, then they will be 'sub-optimal' and something to moan about. It isn't a 'spray and go away disease'
On the subject of disease, we can see from the chart above that the Smith Kerns is sitting in the low 30's currently which means we have some consistent disease pressure out there from Microdochium, Red Thread and probably Dollar Spot, though I haven't heard many reports of the latter just yet. Fortunately with good growth levels and low plant stress, I don't expect many of these to be problematic.
It is possible that Waitea Patch (pictured above) will raise its head over the next few weeks because we have had consistent rain and warm temperatures. Easy to confuse with Superficial Fairy Ring (SFR), this disease likes surface wetness and tends to appear in wetter areas of greens. Being a Rhizoctonia species, it behaves differently to SFR. You don't tend to get the musty smell, the presence of white mycelium in the rootzone nor the localised hydrophobicity commonly associated with SFR. As areas dry up, it'll fade and isn't often associated with turf loss, so no need to fret.
OK, that's me for this mini-blog, I'll be back on Monday as per usual hopefully :)
All the best.